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Air fare

We’re going on the Southern Italy tour beginning of October. We’re keeping an eye on air fare and they seem to be pretty expensive now. We’re looking at premium economy class. Has anyone had any luck in waiting 30 days prior to tour days to purchase?

Posted by
2480 posts

People have reported very high prices this year. I would not count on prices going down.

Posted by
966 posts

Our best prices - esp for Premium Economy are when we book on OPENING DAY-- which is 330 days from your return trip back home. I doubt prices will get any better - but there's always a chance if things don't sell out, the prices will drop, but then you may not get the seats you want. It's always a gamble, but we always find the best price on our 330 day mark. We just got Premium Select for April 2024, into Zurich, out of Amsterdam for $1680. Coach was $800, Delta Comfort Plus was $1240

Posted by
8516 posts

British Airways have a sale on through May 24. I would price on them right now to see what the cost is. Another forum member found her flight was $1000 less on sale.

Posted by
18522 posts

CheapAir.com did a survey of 917 million tickets and they came up:

  • Best Day to Buy Europe Flights: About 10 months from your travel date
  • Prime Booking Window for Europe: 1.5 to 10 months from your travel date
  • The average airfare: $986
  • Cheapest Days to Fly to Europe: The cheapest flights to Europe are on Tuesdays, saving $121 dollars per airline ticket on average compared to flying on Saturday
  • Cheapest months to travel to Europe: February and March
  • Most expensive months to travel to Europe: June, July and August

Having said that, its not unreasonable to expect that the earlier you book the greater the chance your flight will be canceled or rescheduled.

Then there is the current situation where the post COVID rush combined with labor and equipment shortages has increased ticket costs.

I suspect that those increased prices will be reflected in all flights from now to some distant date until the demand takes a downturn and the equipment and labor issues are resolved.

That could mean that if you purchase a ticket today for a December trip the post-COVID cost will be on that future ticket, but if you were to wait and IF the demand subsides and the issues are resolved and airlines start seeing bad sales on tickets for future dates the cost of the ticket might go down. Just wild speculation on my part, based on the airlines’ desire to fill planes. But will the demand go down?

The only other relevant advice is Hit on 15, Stand on 16.

Posted by
8205 posts

Let me just say to be careful on who you buy the ticket from.

I bought a budget airfare from a large independent internet seller of airfares. They bought the ticket on British Airways thru American Airlines on a Visa credit card no less. The pandemic hit and British Airways cancelled my return flights. The ticket seller didn't help us get our $ back from American Airlines. And they didn't answer their phones. I did all the work/documentation. And when American issued the return $, the ticket seller sat on the $ indefinitely--4 1/2 months. They held our $ hostage for service charges. Capital One couldn't chargeback the transaction under the situation. We finally got paid minus service charges.

Lesson: Buy directly from the airline only.

I've been buying tickets at good discounts from European airlines. Air France flights are on their Delta partner both ways. I think we paid in the $670 range from Huntsville to London next week round trip. Delta wanted substantially more if the tickets were bought from them.

Posted by
18522 posts

I think when is only half the equation, the other part is WHAT.

I don't care about traveling light, but I hate bag check lines so I try with only a carryon and that also puts me in the cheapest fare rate. Usually $340 less. But does mean I have to buy seats so add $120 for $220 net savings. Want Premium Economy, exit row seats on the long haul leg will add about $60 to the cost (but i dont). Now $160 net savings. No free rebooking? I rebook 1 in 10 trips so add $20 more for $140 net savings (actually since I don't care about the legroom, I am saving $200.)

I travel 3 times a times a year, and every 6th ticket is free or I can buy 2 TomBhin bags.

When I do check a bag 9 times out of 10, it's one way, and that's a $75 fee + a $40 Amazon duffle that doesn't come home with me.

Posted by
7651 posts

The average airfare: $986

I chuckled when I saw this, it would appear to be the very definition of a useless data point. What is average when price will vary from West Coast or East coast, From a remote regional airport or a busy hub with lots of competition, and of course based on where you are going in Europe, a main hub or a far flung small airport? Not to mention when you are flying, day of week, direct or not, and all the many things that affect a ticket price.

It would be a bit like saying the average airfare in the world is X. I suppose interesting, but useless.

Long way of saying, do not be upset if your ticket is more, it likely will be more than the "average".

Posted by
2977 posts

All of the children here in Friendsville are above average.

Yes, your flight will probably change or be cancelled when you book 10 or so months in advance, but that has been no big deal for us. The changes have not been significant or we were rebooked with no problems. We've never had to change a tour date or hotel for this reason.

Posted by
4010 posts

Has anyone had any luck in waiting 30 days prior to tour days to purchase?

If you wait like that, you’ll be shocked by some of the most expensive airfares you’ve ever seen.

Posted by
2461 posts

I suggest using Google Flights to start tracking your preferred routes. My recent experience doing so for flights to Turkey (in mid September) illustrated that prices bounce around a lot - at one point the price went up $400 between the morning and the evening of the same day. Lesson: when you see a price you can live with, hit the buy button immediately. As has been noted, buy directly from the airline not a third party. I believe some airlines will give you a credit if your fare goes down within a certain time of purchase (I've never had personal experience with this, though).

Posted by
18522 posts

Has anyone had any luck in waiting 30 days prior to tour days to purchase?

Not purchased, but changed. I had a flight that i booked about 5 months in advance and about 30 days prior I had to change it. The cost to change was the difference in fare from what I bought and what I was changing to. In the end it cost $12 and for some reason the airline refunded that about 5 months later. So, the price 30 days out was the same as the price 5 months out in that one instance. But that guarantees nothing. I wish I could book a year in advance, but I just dont have the luxury.

Also for the best rates, if you have the luxury of different departure airports shop around. But dont expect consistency.

For years flying out of SAT with stops at IAH and IST to BUD was the cheapest (United/Turkish) Then for a few years after that I could make the 3 hour drive to Houston (and visit friends for the evening) and save $300 (Turkish) with one stop in IST. Then for the next two trips flying out of AUS (KLM) with a stop in AMS saved about $300. My trip in a few weeks is flying out of SAT (Delta) with two stops was $300 cheaper than anything else. My next two trips will be out of AUS (Lufthansa) with stops in FRA.

My tickets have cost anywhere from $600 to $1300 and the average over the last 3 years has probably been arround $900, but that is going up fast thanks to the new prices.

Posted by
4605 posts

British Airways is pretty limited in US markets, most people can't fly them.

Unfortunately southern Italy is going to cost more to reach in any case since some discount airlines don't fly there. If Condor or Aer Lingus serves your market then check them.

Waiting till 30 days out is a poor strategy.

Posted by
332 posts

OP, if you just started your search, maybe watch flights for a bit more to get a sense of the range of prices and, if available, look at nearby alternate departure or arrival airports.

Waiting until 30 days out would make me nervous. With needing to meet a tour you don’t have a lot of date flexibility. And, looking for Premium Economy (PE) seats adds an additional layer of complication to the search. The available supply of these seats is a fraction of the number of main cabin seats on any given flight and that small number of PE seats just goes down as you get closer to the departure date. From what I’ve heard, premium type economy seats have become more popular recently.

Posted by
18522 posts

BigMikeWestByGodVirginia, you usually nail it, but this time I have to ask, how could it get worse? The 2 extra inches in Preimum isnt worth the extra cost if you think about $ per squre inch of seating ......... so, in effect, the premium economy folks are subsidizing my ticket. Not being like the average RS follower here, that is I am relatively poor by what I suspect is the average and certinally less edgetatted, the cheap, well subsidized, seats are my only option. Then there is the old adage, that the value of someting is determined by what someone is willing to pay for it. Apparently there are a lot of lower class folks like me that are willing to pay for 30" pitch as long as the premium guys keep my price down. Do i like it? No, but what is 9 hours out of my life. You know what I can do with the $300 I save? Buy more designer luggage of course.

And if I were to get claustrophobic, I can buy an exit row seat and have more leg room than preimum for a a few hundered dollrs less..... but nope, that cuts in to the luggage allowance.

Posted by
16703 posts

“ British Airways is pretty limited in US markets, most people can't fly them.”

Tom, that is not true. They have many cities in the US with direct flights, and for the rest they partner with American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and others to created a trip on one ticket.

Our kids live in a small town in Idaho, and friends live in a small town in Oregon. They have no trouble booking a flight from their home airport to to SEA or PDX for a direct flight to LHR, changing there for the flight to their destination in Italy, or wherever.

Anywhere AA or AS flies is accessible for. BA flight.

Posted by
4605 posts

I could be wrong but I doubt the BA sale prices carry over to people starting their journey on AA or Alaska feeder flights.

Posted by
4605 posts

No the sale fares are BA flights only. They are quite good prices, but I can’t access them. There are cities like San Diego, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Nashville, Austin where no US carrier flies nonstop to Europe but BA does so BA is great for those people, Personally BA and Lufthansa never come up in my searches.

Posted by
18522 posts

Austin has Lufthansa and KLM non-stop to Europe. Lufthansa is the best deal right now for my destinations out of Austin. .

Okay, that's not true if your destination after a London layover is also served by BA.

Posted by
3 posts

Hello, we just booked our tickets for back-to-back tours of Southern England and Best of Italy in September. We were fortunate to pick up these tours within the past two weeks. They must have been cancellations. I was pretty shocked how much more expensive airline tickets are than for tours we did a few years ago. We are purchasing them closer to the tour dates, obviously, but it's also my understanding that Europe is just jammed with tourism this year. I would NOT wait until 30 days before the tours. You will have such fewer options. I like to select our seat locations, and the flights I picked were already quite full. Since we are flying from the west coast, we like to get Premium Economy for the direct red eye flights. In most cases, the best seat choices were already taken. It was quite painful to pay so much and not get the preferred seats, like we did when we booked much further in advance. Good luck to you in your search. It's my least favorite party of trip planning!

Posted by
16703 posts

I just checked the BA sales prices for a hypothetical roundtrip to London, out on October 18 and back on Oct. 25. I compared roundtrip from Seattle, a single direct flight, with roundtrip from Boise, with the extra flight from Boise to Seattle connecting with the London flight. As I expected, the Boise connection flights used Alaska Airlines (actually Skywest metal).

The price from Seattle for the lowest fare class (Economy Basic) is $695. From Boise, $899. In other words, $200 extra to add the 2/Boise connection flights. That is indeed the price of a roundtrip on Alaska between Seattle and Boise—-I do it several times a year. So BA is still offering the good sale price on their leg, but they cannot discount the Alaska fare. That is, unfortunately, the price one pays for living in a smaller city without an international airport—-you have to fly to a hub city to catch the international flight.

I noticed that the sale prices were exactly the same if the long haul flight was on American Airlines metal, booked through BA.

Then I tried the same dates with a BA flight to Rome, connecting through LHR. Seattle to Rome, $862; Boise to Rome, $1046. However, this time the Boise option offered only regular Economy, not Economy Basic.. But still essentially the same result——the BA sale price applies to the long-haul flight regardless whether you add a connecting flight from another city. But this time no AA flight options were offered for the same fare; they cost much more.

Note that these fares are on BA’s Economy Basic. That means hand baggage only; no checked bags. But there is no reduced seat size or less legroom. And one can still pay for seat selection if they wish.

Posted by
1251 posts

Ellisc66

I suggest you try test booking on skyscanner 30/60/90/120/150 from today i.e. June 23, July 23, August 23, September 23, October 23 and compare the prices. I don't think prices will be cheaper if you wait 30 days before departure, especially this year. You run the risk that seats will sell out for your date if you wait too long.

We flew to Spain last November with Lufthansa. It was low season and I do not think our flight sold out. However, I think Lufthansa and Air Canada who are partners consolidated their flights into one plane and changed our flight to partner Eurowings to fill up one plane in the weeks before our departure. It make sense not to fly with lots of vacant seats.

We bought our Sept 2023 airfare for Portugal back in March. Our flights with the better departure/arrival times and shorter flight times are sold out and the alternative flights have jumped in price, a lot. There is a lot of pent up demand to travel this year. If you want to travel, i would suggest booking asap. Or wait a year and hope that demand and prices settle down in 2024. Good luck.

Posted by
13 posts

Bought RT ticket from west coast to Paris for next January.
Delta Comfort+.
Anyone with experience let me know if the extra cost will be worth it. Only flown coach before. Also, never flown Delta before. Only travel with carryon.

Posted by
65 posts

Hi, ellisc66. I work for a travel agency (just a clerk, not an agent) and demand for Europe is HUGE right now. I agree with the suggestion to track the flight price on Google flights so you get feel for the fluctuations. When you see something reasonable just go for it, buy your tickets and don't look back. If you wait til within 30 days of departure date premium economy seats may be sold out. I'd say they're worth it if the cost difference is only $200-300 from a regular economy ticket. I flew United Premium Economy to France last year and it was my first time in those seats. Tickets were about $300 more than economy. I loved the smaller cabin, wider seat and recliner/foot rest for my short legs. Seat pitch/legroom not usually an issue for me. I'm flying regular economy on Aer Lingus to Ireland soon, so let's see how I feel being back in row 34....

Posted by
848 posts

It looks like Delta Comfort Plus is just extra legroom, guaranteed overhead bin and early boarding. Whereas United Premium Economy is a much larger seat with a footrest in addition to the rest. I find at my age the United PE much more comfortable on the long haul flights.

Posted by
323 posts

We booked United premium plus last year. We loved it! It’s not quite first class but very nice upgrades. However- planning another European trip and the prices have doubled! Ugh.